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Thursday, August 8, 2013

Swamped...

The last two weeks, I've either been or a trip or recovering from jetlag. Therefore, this means that I have been unable to post. I apologize, and hope to start posting regularly again next week.

My trip to India, however, was enlightening, and I can't wait to share my experiences with you!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Talk with Mr. Satyarthi....

This past Tuesday, I had the wonderful experience of being able to talk to Kailash Satyarthi over the phone.  We talked about a variety of things, which I'll detail a little bit more in this post. Remember, I profiled him here in a previous post. Mr. Satyarthi has dedicated his life to fighting child labor on a global scale.

Mr. Satyarthi told me that while child labor is slowly being eradicated in India, especially in rural areas, it still is a very prevalent problem, and that law enforcement is just as important as the law when dealing with this issue. India is soon going to institute key amendments to its Constitution that prohibit any child under 14 from working.

His organization has set up numerous campaigns and fundraisers, as well as conducted several raids on child labor hotspots, freeing children, rehabilitating them, and educating them in the process. He also told me ways that I can help - Getting involved in campaigns, writing, and outreaching. We even discussed setting up a new program - 'Child Ambassadors' - For which I could be an inaugural member.

It was a true honor talking to Mr. Satyarthi, and one that I wanted to share with you. We can all learn a little something from this incredibly kind and courageous man.


Friday, July 19, 2013

The US Would Boycott Child Labor?

According to a survey conducted this week, more than three-quarters of Americans would try to avoid purchasing clothes made by child laborers.

The survey was conducted by ChildFund International, and also concluded that 55% of those surveyed would pay higher prices for clothing made by adult workers, and on average would pay 34% more.

"These survey findings provide telling insight into Americans' attitudes about child labor and should help companies understand that they need not make economic choices over moral ones", says Anne Lynam Goddard, president and CEO of ChildFund. "I believe that American customers will become increasingly educated about the source of the products they purchase and begin   making more knowledgable and ethically-driven buying decisions."

On the other hand, the poll found that most Americans are grossly misinformed about the global prevalence of child labor. Although numbers have reduced in recent years, more than 150 million children still work worldwide, and 73% of responders put the number at 1 million or less.

This poll is a true eye-opener in terms of the difference between being motivated and being informed. The good news is that Americans would boycott these products, and with that in mind, a national boycott could be arranged. But even more important is being educated on these issues, because misinformation has been one of the most dangerous tools in history.

Friday, July 12, 2013

Child Labor Crisis...In Greece?

When someone says "child labor", our mind immediately jumps to kids working in third-world countries like India or sub-Saharan Africa. It's a well-founded assumption, but we should keep in mind that child labor is not only a "developing world" problem. The recent revelations that over 100,000 children are illegally working in Greece are a prime example.

Greece is a country in deep trouble, and its problems regarding child labor should come as no surprise given its economic woes. The country is in its sixth year of recession and nearly 10% of children live in a family where not even one person has a job. The rise in illegal child labor has come at a time when unemployment is staggeringly high - The overall rate is 26.8%, and for young people under 25, 59.2%. As middle and lower-class families come under financial stress, the overall school dropout rates are equally alarming. 11.4% of the student population - That is, 70,000 students - dropped out of school in 2012. 3,500 of those students had yet to complete primary school.

And Greece's history doesn't point to a happy ending. The Southern European nation has one of the worst track records in terms of policies protecting children, a fact that is reflected by the half a million Greek children now living in poverty. In order to get themselves out of this crisis, Greece needs to train labor inspectors and create a centralized body to deal with these issues. As the country's financial troubles get worse and worse, the very youngest Greek citizens are at risk. The economy is only the start of Greece's worries.

Thursday, July 4, 2013

Internet Problems...

Hi everybody,

I'm currently in India over the summer, and the Internet has been extremely flaky. Due to these unforeseen problems, I can't write a full blog post this week. I apologize to all my readers, and please stay tuned for next week's blog post!

- Arjun

Friday, June 28, 2013

The FLSA at 75

On June 25, 2013, we saw the 75th anniversary of the Fair Labor Standards Act ( FLSA ), a landmark piece of legislation signed by President Roosevelt in 1938. What did it do? Basically, it outlawed "oppressive child labor", imposed a federal minimum wage of 25 cents an hour, and limited work hours to 40 a week. A diamond jubilee later, we look into how well the FLSA in currently working.

Turn the clock back to 1938. Child labor is rampant, worker rights are being abused and conditions are terrible, and America still finds itself mired in one of the greatest economic collapses in history. This law was necessary to restore some sort of stability to the industry, but now it is not so favored among employers and employees alike.

On the employee side, the minimum wage of $7.25 per hour is viewed as inadequate and insufficient for workers to escape the poverty level. Particularly galling to employee advocates is the "tipped minium wage" for restaurant waiters that is only $2.13 per hour in many states.

On the employer side, employees are being overworked ( over 40 hours ), with the misconception that if white-collar employees are paid a salary, then the 'overtime' rule does not apply. This has led to hundreds of FLSA cases and tens of millions of dollars of losses to companies.

But let me get to my real point - Child labor. A flurry of similar legislation in the 1930s helped almost completely get rid of this menace in the United States, but it wasn't just about the law - It was more about how well they enforced. Developing countries could do well to take after the US's war against child labor and poverty in the 1930's. With child labor still a prominent issue around the world, law enforcement, education, and alternative income are the most important things at hand right now.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Into India...


I have a feeling that I'm not going to get much readership this week, due to summer break. Therefore, I will treat you with a video of an ABC News investigation, straight into the slums of India.

ABC's Bob Woodruff went on an expedition into India's coal mines, where children as young as 9 work one of the most dangerous jobs on the planet. The pitfalls and dangers that the children face every day of their miserable lives was almost too much for a grown, mature adult to bear. Check it out:



Hope you enjoy this video, and that it helps you better understand what really is behind child labor.